Bao Ninh is a Vietnamese novelist and essayist best known for his semi-autobiographical novel, The Sorrow of War.
Ninh was born Hiang Au Phuong on October 18, 1952, in Nghe An province in what was, at the time, North Vietnam.
Ninh joined the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade when he was 17 years old. The Sorrow of War chronicles the terrible conditions of fighting and the extreme loss of life: of 500 who went to war in 1969, only ten survived.
One of Ninh’s first published works was Camp of the Seven Dwarves, issued in 1987. The Sorrow of War came out in 1990, followed by a book of short fiction in 2013 and a book of essays in 2016. The Sorrow of War was lauded by critics and by many veterans, but it garnered scrutiny and criticism from the authorities. Ninh said in a rare interview with The Guardian, though, that now, things are different: “When I wrote the book, the emotions of the Vietnam war were very different, and the relationship was different between America and Vietnam. The Cold War was still on…The book came out 15 years after the war ended, but people were still entrenched in the war-like propaganda of the time, so not in line with what the government was saying.”
Ninh has been editing a literary magazine in Hanoi since 1991. He is married and has children.